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10 reasons to visit Herefordshire on your next short break

Plan an English countryside break to Herefordshire

Ever asked yourself: ‘Where is Herefordshire exactly?’ You’re not the first. This luscious county west of the Midlands borders Wales and Shropshire and is one of England’s best-kept secrets. Read on to discover more about Herefordshire’s olde-worlde villages, boutique distilleries, farm-to-fork dining, luxury hot tub lodges and the famous house where Netflix’s Sex Education is filmed. 

1

Places to eat in Herefordshire

The Riverside at Aymestrey

With plenty of farmland comes fresh, local produce, lots of which you can find in Herefordshire’s restaurants. One of the finest examples is The Riverside at Aymestrey, which, as its name suggests, sits on the banks of the River Wye. This atmospheric eatery, set inside a 16th-century building, serves quirky dishes like Herefordshire snails with truffle mayo and stout parfait with crème fraiche ice cream. There are also designated dog tables in the garden, so your four-legged friend can come too.

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Other top places to eat include Castle House, a boutique hotel run by a local farmer who supplies delicious Hereford beef; one-Michelin-starred Pensons, which tells the story of its location through its Estate-to-Plate ethos; and The Bookshop, which scooped a win at the Observer Food Monthly Awards. Looking for something a bit different? Opt for Drovers Rest Farm, where you can dine beneath the stars on feasts cooked outdoors on open fires.

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2

Things to do in Herefordshire

Eastnor Castle

Herefordshire is home to a treasure trove of little known but nonetheless lavish stately homes. One of its most notable country piles is Eastnor Castle, which lies at the foot of the Malvern Hills. Surrounded by a deer park, this elegant stately home, with its fairytale turrets and medieval tapestries, even featured in season one of HBO’s hit series, Succession. You can even bring your pooch for a nose around too; the castle is one of only a few historical houses where dogs are welcome into both its grounds and house. 

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Other heritage attractions in Herefordshire that deserve your attention include Hellens Manor, one of the oldest dwellings in England and home to a wealth of fancy period furnishings, artefacts and paintings. Berrington Hall, a Georgian mansion home to a romp of otters, is well worth a visit, as is Kentchurch Court near Hereford, which dates back to the Doomsday Book era. The house is open to fascinating tours hosted by the owner Joss Lucas-Scudamore, who’ll show you every nook and cranny of this historic house. There are also B&B rooms onsite if you fancy staying over. 

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3

Places to visit in Herefordshire

Ledbury

Whilst Herefordshire is predominantly known for its natural beauty, its towns and cities are equally as charming. The market town of Ledbury, for example, located between Hereford and the iconic Malvern Hills, is laced with history and man-made feats. Its timber-framed buildings lining Church Lane and the High Street are its main draw, as well as the 16th-century frescoes that adorn the Town Hall’s Painted Room, the myriad of mews and the Grade I-listed Market Hall.

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Twenty-two miles north you’ll find Leominster which, like Ledbury, is also very photogenic. A mecca of antiques, this charmingly down-to-earth town has an array of independent shops full of historic and pre-loved pieces. It also heralds the start of The Black and White Trail, a magical 40-mile circular route of picture-book medieval, Tudor and Georgian homes and buildings. Nearby, sitting on a hilltop you’ll find Bromyard, known for being both foodie haven – cosy cafés, bakeries and pubs line the traditional high street – and famous for its yearly line-up of shindigs like the Bromyard Folk Festival and even an annual scarecrow festival.

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4

Places to stay in Herefordshire

Green Dragon Hotel

Dating back over 900 years, the Green Dragon Hotel was originally called the White Lyon, and has hosted a variety of guests since then, including pilgrims visiting the shrines of St Ethelbert and St Thomas Cantaloupe at the Cathedral and even Owen Tudor (King Henry VIII’s grandfather) who was imprisoned here following his defeat at the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross. Fast forward to today and the hotel’s still going strong, its 83 individually-decorated ensuite bedrooms inspired by the hotel’s heritage and filled with bold furnishing, large beds and eco-friendly toiletries. Make the most of your stay by booking afternoon tea in the stylish Garrick Lounge, or a bottomless brunch in the 1920s-style wood-panelled dining room, and indulge in cocktails in the cosy Offa Bar.

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If you’re booking a break with extended family or friends, look no further than The Barns at Upper House. With their own private gardens and hot tubs, these luxurious self-catering barns sleep from 10 all the way up to 48. For glamping, there’s Herefordshire Hideaways, where you can choose from the open-plan Mosaic Cabin, Scandi-chic Corner House or The Stargazers Wagon, all with their own hot tubs and distinct charm. Another outdoorsy option is The Carn, an eco-cabin made from salvaged and sustainably sourced timber. With rolling views, an outdoor shower, sunken tub and firepit, it’s the perfect place to unplug and switch off.

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5

Tours and tastings in Herefordshire

Westons Cider

Did you know that some of Britain’s renowned ciders are picked and pressed in Herefordshire? One of these, Westons Cider, is an award-winning family brewer that makes pub favourites like Stowford Press, Old Rosie and Wyld Wood. On their Cider Mill Tour, you can explore the UK’s largest cider collection of oak vats, and see where they harvest, weigh, press, ferment, blend and pack their ciders, all before sinking a pint in the onsite Scrumpy House Restaurant. More orchard adventures can be had on The Cider Circuits; three circular cycle routes taking in award-winning artisan cider producers such as Newton Court who make ciders for High Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage brand.

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If cider isn’t your drink of choice, then there’s always the Wythall Estate Vineyard, who grow award-winning wines and serve up tutored wine-tasting sessions in their idyllic half-timbered manor house. Chase Distillery, halfway between Hereford and Leominster, produce artisan vodka and gin and offer expert-guided tours (and free samples), or why not try some British Cassis at Whittern Farms, where you can tour the 150-acre blackcurrant plantation and even create your own bottle to take home with you.

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6

Filming locations in Herefordshire

Symonds Yat

Herefordshire is a hotspot for film and TV location scouts. Renowned for its towering cliffs, heavily wooded gorge and all-round fantastic natural scenery, Symonds Yat famously features in the hit Netflix show, Sex Education. This Wye Valley icon acts as the backdrop to Otis (Asa Butterfield) and Jean Milburn’s (Gillian Anderson) Scandinavian-inspired hilltop family home which, coincidentally, you can also rent out for a scenic staycation.

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Herefordshire’s starring role on Netflix isn’t the county’s only claim to fame. Coppett Hill, in the Forest of Dean, featured in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1, in a snowy scene where Hermione reveals she used to holiday there as a child. And while not a filming location, sci-fi fans can’t miss a visit to The Time Machine Museum of Science Fiction. Home to Daleks, a full-size tardis, R2-D2 and lots more film memorabilia, costumes and props, this museum pays homage to science-fiction greats like Doctor Who, Star Wars and Red Dwarf.

7

Activities in Herefordshire

River Wye

Getting closer to nature is easy in Herefordshire and there’s no better way to discover secluded spots and secret views than by taking to the water. Hire a canoe from a local company like Wye Canoes or Canoe The Wye and paddle your way from Kerne Bridge to Symonds Yat, keeping an eye out for deer, peregrine falcons and the ruins of Goodrich Castle. Or, if you’re looking for a dose of adrenaline, opt for a yoga session on a paddleboard.

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Carry on your outdoor adventure at The Land Rover Experience in Eastnor, where you can navigate challenging terrain – from steep, slippery inclines to deep, murky waters – from behind the wheel of a 4x4, or take a gentle trek through south Herefordshire’s Golden Valley with a llama by your side. If you’re a fan of heights, why not scale the cliffs at Symonds Yat on a rock-climbing adventure?

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8

Gardens in Herefordshire

The Laskett Gardens

Nature buffs will also love The Laskett Gardens, which, until recently, was one of England’s most hidden and private gardens. Starting out as a bare field in 1974, The Laskett now houses a topiary-filled yew garden, fountains and sixty-yard-long Elizabeth Tudor Walk. The Christmas Orchard dazzles with wildflowers and roses in the summer and crisp green apples come autumn, and there are plenty of artistically placed sculptures, statues and follies to capture on camera.  

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On the banks of the River Wye, Brobury House’s award-winning terraced gardens are woven with water features and have panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Another favourite is the Hergest Croft Garden, which is home to more than 5,000 trees and said to have been the inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles. Elsewhere, in the outskirts of Leominster, you’ll find Hampton Court Castle with its 1,000 yew tree maze, adorable Dutch garden and a dreamy 150-year-old wisteria tunnel.

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9

Walking in Herefordshire

Hergest Ridge, Kington

Herefordshire is a hiker’s dream, crisscrossed with footpaths and eight long-distance routes. Try the Roasts & Rambles routes for jaw-dropping views, wild landscapes and unexpected surprises, from wild ponies to romantic castle ruins. Each route comes with a recommended pub or restaurant where you can refuel with local seasonal dishes and regional tipples. We’ve been eyeing up the menus at Jules in the village of Weobley!

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The Twin Valley Ley Line Trail is a new historical long-distance walking route covering England’s highest monastic site, tiny country churches, the peaks of the Black Mountains and Neolithic sacred stones.

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10

Attractions in Herefordshire

Hereford Cathedral

You’ve heard of the Magna Carta, but what about the Mappa Mundi? Inscribed with more than 1,000 cities, towns, plants, animals and birds, this 700-year-old map lets you discover how medieval scholars interpreted the world – and luckily for us, it now resides in Hereford’s millennia-old cathedral. The Cathedral is also home to one of Europe’s largest surviving chained libraries where, as the name suggests, books dating back to the 8th century are chained to their shelves. Tower and garden tours are also on offer if you fancy exploring the cathedral further.

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To learn more about Herefordshire’s history, pay a visit to the Waterworks Museum, which tells the story of drinking water by experiencing the sights, smells and sounds of the bygone era of steam as well as heaps of hands-on exhibits. The Heritage Suite at the historic Town Hall houses the city’s ancient charters, medieval weaponry and lots of other artefacts, while the Black and White House Museum gives you a glimpse into how people lived during the 17th century.

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07 Apr 2022(last updated)

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  • 1

    The Riverside at Aymestrey

  • 2

    Eastnor Castle

  • 3

    Ledbury

  • 4

    Green Dragon Hotel

  • 5

    Westons Cider

  • 6

    Symonds Yat

  • 7

    River Wye

  • 8

    The Laskett Gardens

  • 9

    Hergest Ridge, Kington

  • 10

    Hereford Cathedral

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